*Poof*

What does one do when she rather abruptly quits her job, writes a blog post explaining why, and experiences a 20,000% increase in blog traffic because of said post? Well, she capitalizes on the wave of attention and writes another piece the very next day.

And then she publishes something new every day hence.

Unless, of course, “she” is me. In that case, she completely ignores her blog, works 14-hour days for three weeks straight in attempt to leave her job well, then gets on a boat to Alaska and disappears. *Poof*

When she returns, she can’t convince herself that she has anything remotely compelling to write, even though the world went bonkers (or, more accurately, bonkers-er) while she was eating Dramamine like candy and “OHMYGOSH”-ing over breaching humpback whales and calving glaciers.

She has opinions, as one might suppose, about Planned Parenthood and Boy Scouts and Donald Trump and gun control and billion-dollar sports stadiums. But she can’t seem to type more than three words before her right ring finger slams down on delete.

She reads Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird for the umpteenth time in an attempt to flatten her insecurity. This doesn’t work, because she does what she often does—which is to compare herself to Someone Else. Who? Oh, I’ll give you a hint: her initials are Anne Freaking Lamott.

The next best move would have been to read something terrible. You know—to lift her spirits and maybe stump her wicked-mean internal editor. But no. That’s not what she does. Instead, she visits John Pavlovitz’s and Rachel Held Evans’ blogs—both of whom have already written every brilliant thing that could’ve ever been written about all the stuff.

So she writes a post in which she refers to herself as a third person pronoun and vows to try again tomorrow.

(I’ll try again tomorrow.)

Inspiration and Anger

Create

I remember the first time I saw Wicked. My girls were out of town, and I was sitting at home on a Friday afternoon trying to put together some sort of Wonderful Night Out for Jack and me. At that time, I didn’t fully comprehend his lack of interest in all things performing arts (or maybe I did, and I was feeling selfish), so I dropped $120 on last-minute tickets, and off we went.

Long story short: At some point during Act One, I realized Jack was sleeping. I, on the other hand, was sitting rigid in my chair and had tears streaming down my face—and not from happiness. No, I was pissed. Not at Jack for falling asleep and certainly not because of the story line. Nope. I was absolutely livid at the performers for having the audacity to be so ridiculously talented. It’s not fair, I thought. Over and over again.

It’s okay: It doesn’t make any sense to me, either. But sensical or not, it happens every time I see a live theater performance: West Side Story at The Muny, Movin’ Out at The Fox, Assassins at the Ivory Theater, the Modern American Dance Company at The Touhill, the freaking St. Louis Symphony at Powell Hall. I get so angry.

I have this theory that anger is only a manifestation of a deeper, underlying emotion. It doesn’t take three, $120 sessions on a couch to figure out what my deal is: It’s envy. Of course it is. It’s Obsessive Comparison Disorder (I stole that; I’m not that clever), and it goes something like this:

“I’ll never be able to do that. I could’ve, if I’d been disciplined, but now it’s too late. And I probably wouldn’t have actually made it anyway, because I really wasn’t all that great. Certainly not as good as those jerks on stage. And even if I had made it, I would’ve ended up in opera, anyway, not Stomp, so it doesn’t matter, but it matters so much and it’s just not fair that some people have all this talent and they get to do that for a living. Not me, though. Nope, I’m just watching someone do something I’ve always wanted to do. And oh my gosh her voice is so crystal clear and controlled I just want to choke her.”

(The part about choking goes away quickly because violence is wrong.)

And you know what’s absurd? (Because up to this point, it hasn’t been?) I didn’t really even want to go into the performing arts. I don’t regret not going off to New York to try to make it. I really can’t fathom performing the same show over and over and over again. But it doesn’t matter if I want to. The point is I can’t, and I don’t like that word even a little bit.

Oh, but it gets better, friends. It extends beyond performing arts and into things like, ooooh, biomedical engineering. I watched this video this morning and cried because of its wonderfulness, yes, but mostly cried because I’m so mad at that kid for being so smart and so generous and grrr he’s using more than his fair share of intelligence and creativity and it’s just.not.right.

Yes, you guys, I realize this is the dumbest thing ever, ever, ever. 

It may make more sense that this happens to me when I’m reading. John Irving infuriates me. Those Canadian women? Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood?  Hate them. (Love them.) Hate them. Ann Patchett. Jhumpha Lahiri. Dave Eggers. Anne Lammott. Nearly anyone who’s ever been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. And, for the love of all that’s good and right, don’t come within 100 yards of me if I’m just finished reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Light is Like Water” (the most beautiful short fiction piece I’ve ever experienced), or you will see angst like you never knew existed.

Talent should inspire me, shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t I have unicorns leaping over rainbows in my right hemisphere, pooping out turns of phrase and brilliant metaphors? Well, that’s not what happens. Instead, gargoyles emerge from my amygdala, flatten the unicorns, and grab me by the elbow: “Run, Kelley. You’ll never be that good. There’s no point fighting for it.”

Stupid talented people. I can’t stand them.

I love them.

The Year of Doing It

Favorite Friend and I were on a road trip last week, and for a significant portion of the drive, we lamented about how we’re tired of just talking about doing things and how we want to actually start doing them. So we have declared 2015 to be The Year of Doing It.

My “thing,” as you might have guessed, is writing.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to write. Instead of making random sentences with my elementary school spelling words, like we were supposed to, I turned them into elaborate stories about (and my mom will have to check me on this, but I think this is right) a Giant Yellow Invisible Chicken. I’ve rarely struggled meeting minimum word counts on assignments. When I was a teenager, I declared that I would someday have a short story published in The New Yorker. 

The trouble is, I don’t write. Not much, anyway.

Last week, I stumbled across a blog—which I now can’t find and so I’m wondering if it dreamed it—that instructed would-be writers to “just sit in the chair and write.” Don’t edit. Just write. Don’t worry about how pretty your blog looks. Just write. Don’t get addicted to likes and comments, just write. Don’t think about SEO. Just write. For an hour. Every day.

This morning, after spending a little time in scripture and trying to make nice with my [he]elliptical, I sat down at my big, square kitchen table for my hour of writing. And for the first 10 minutes of that hour, I just stared at the blinking cursor, trying to come up with something to say.

And this is where the fear comes in.

I haven’t written much in the past because I have a nasty internal editor who tells me I have nothing to offer. “Everything you have to say has been said before–and better,” she says. “Who the hell do you think you are? Why would anyone want to read your stuff?” she says. “Just pack it up and go eat some ice cream or something,” she says. (Which is just plain mean, because I don’t have any.)

I find myself staring at the stupid, blinking cursor and thinking, “What if she’s right? Oh no. She is right. Of course she’s right. I’ve only been at this for six days, and already I can’t think of anything compelling to say. This is the dumbest idea ever.”

I’m not going to listen to that voice. In fact, if I could flip her the bird and storm out of the room, I would. (Except the flipping-her-the-bird part, because I’d feel terrible about that five minutes later, wondering if I’d hurt her feelings.)

For me, The Year of Doing It means sitting in the chair and writing for an hour every day. And some days what I have to offer is going to suck, because if I’m worried about being brilliant and hilarious and profound all the time, one of two things would happen: I’ll get fired from my real job because I’ll be laboring over posts for hours instead doing what I’m actually paid  to do (which is kind of exactly what happened yesterday). Or, and this is more likely, I’ll quit. Again. I don’t want to do that.

I’m not going to do that. 

So, what’s your “It” for the year?

This is Not a Resolution

If you’re a writer, you’ll know this trick:

“I’m going to Barnes and Noble, and I’m going to purchase the best-feeling, best-smelling, most hipster-looking journal I can find–preferably with a wrap-around leather strap–and I’m going to write. Not like all the other times I’ve bought a new journal and used only the first three pages, but really, really I’m going to do it.”

This new blog site is the digital version of that pipedream resolution.